SINGAPORE – In this 14-day column, National Parks Board veterinarians answer questions about pet health and behavior
I’ve heard that I can get toxoplasmosis in cats. Should I get rid of my cat if a member of my household is recently immunocompromised?
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the unicellular parasite Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii) that can infect both humans and animals.
Humans and other animals can become infected with toxoplasmosis in a number of ways, including ingesting undercooked, contaminated meat or shellfish; contaminated soil or water; and congenital transmission or accidental ingestion of the parasite through direct or indirect contact with contaminated cat feces.
Toxoplasmosis does not generally manifest itself clinically in healthy individuals, but it can cause long-term health problems in pregnant women and immunocompromised people and animals.
Cats become infected when they ingest infected prey or raw meat and excrete T. gondii oocysts (parasite eggs) with their feces. Newly infected cats typically begin shedding oocysts three to 10 days after consuming infected meat and continue to shed oocysts for 10 to 14 days. These oocysts become infectious after 24 hours.
Cats who do not hunt prey or consume raw meat are unlikely to be infected with T. gondii. The likelihood that people will develop toxoplasmosis through their domestic cats is relatively low, since infected cats only shed T. gondii oocysts for a short time – less than 30 days – and the oocysts in their feces are not immediately infectious.
Frequently removing the feces from the litter box and following good personal hygiene, such as wearing gloves and washing hands thoroughly after cleaning, will help minimize the possibility of infection.
In short, owning a cat doesn’t mean you are infected with toxoplasmosis. A pet is for life and getting rid of your cat would be irresponsible as the risks of exposure are generally low.
There are many simple preventive measures that can be taken to avoid accidental exposure. Household members at higher risk of infection may be encouraged to avoid contact with cat feces and to wash their hands after interacting with cats.
If you have any concerns about toxoplasmosis in cats, contact your veterinarian.
Can I feed bones to a dog?
Ingestion of bones can create a choking hazard and block or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. PHOTO: PIXABAY
While chewing on bones can keep dogs entertained and maintain some level of dental hygiene, giving them to dogs without first consulting a veterinarian is not advisable, as there are many potential risks and health hazards.
Raw bones can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter, which can be dangerous to both humans and dogs and can be transmitted through dog saliva or feces.
Cooked bones should never be given to dogs because they are brittle and easily splinter when chewed. The sharp fragments can damage and even pierce a dog’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract, requiring immediate and extensive veterinary intervention. Damage to the gastrointestinal tract can also lead to internal bleeding and abdominal infections, which can be fatal.
Ingestion of bones – both raw and cooked – can also pose a choking hazard and lead to a blockage or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. This could lead to suffocation; Constipation, which is painful, traumatic and may require veterinary intervention; or a major or complete blockage of the stomach or intestines that requires invasive abdominal surgery.
In addition, chewing on bones increases the risk of broken teeth in dogs because bones are very hard. Certain types of bones are also high in fat and can increase your dog’s propensity for developing health conditions such as pancreatitis and obesity.
In addition, due to their anatomical differences, not all dog breeds are suitable for chewing on bones.
Instead of offering bones to your dog, consider alternative methods such as regular brushing of your dog’s teeth and products like veterinary treats and toys to keep him entertained.
Ask your veterinarian about methods that will suit your dog.
• Questions and answers from Dr. Grace Yam, a veterinarian for the National Parks Board Veterinary and Veterinary Services.
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